AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton says Yuki Tsunoda’s crash in qualifying at Imola was “a rookie error” and not a reflection of the young Japanese driver going “over the top”.
Tsunoda acquitted himself well on his F1 debut in Bahrain, steering clear of trouble and finishing P9 at Sakhir.
But at Imola, the 20-year-old suffered an early setback when he crashed heavily at the start of Saturday’s qualifying session at the Variante Alta chicane.
Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko reckoned an excess of confidence had led to the costly mistake, saying that his young protégé had been a bit too “cocky” at the outset, while Tsunoda himself admitted to getting “too excited” during his Q1 flyer.
But Egginton believes the mishap was simply a rookie error, and one that should not have been unexpected.
“I think it’s fair to say that he’s been reasonably measured up to now,” Egginton said.
“The lap started well, he was not wayward earlier in the lap or doing anything that was ridiculous. Sector 1 looked quite nice, Sector 2 looked OK.
“He just got on the throttle a little bit early on the kerb and it’s all got away from him.
“It’s just one of those things that happens with a young driver, early in their career. I think any of these guys have always had these incidents.
"So it’s not a trend of him pushing too hard and going over the top, it just got away from him.
“In hindsight, he probably could have taken a bit more margin, but that’s part of the rookie journey isn’t it?”
After starting last at Imola, Tsunoda almost made up for his qualifying error when he progressed up into the top ten just before the race’s red flag period.
Unfortunately, the AlphaTauri charger was caught out on the restart and spun, which ultimately dropped him back down to 13th at the checkered flag.